The Mirror and the Light (2021) by Hilary Mantel

The Sunday Times bestselling sequel to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies , the stunning conclusion to Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall trilogy.
A Guardian Book of the Year * A Times Book of the Year * A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year * A Sunday Times Book of the Year * A New Statesman Book of the Year * A Spectator Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020
‘Mantel has taken us to the dark heart of history…and what a show’ The Times


‘If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?’

England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.

Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?

With The Mirror and the Light , Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies . She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.

Buy it here to support independent bookshops.

This book will be discussed at our meeting on

21 March 2022.


If you’d like to join the Book Club, please drop a line in the comments section below. The dates of the Book Club meetings are listed in the Events section. The selected books are posted on this website every month.

See Thomas Cromwell’s Portrait in Bath Exhibition

Queen Elizabeth I by Unknown artist, circa 1588 © National Portrait Gallery, London

While you read this month’s book, you may also be interested in The Holburne Museum’s exhibition, The Tudors: Passion, Power & Politics. Running until 8 May, the exhibition was developed in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery and National Museums Liverpool, and includes some of the most iconic images in British painting,


1 Comment

The Tudor Portraits Exhibition Visit – Thursday 21 April – Burton in Wiltshire · 02/22/2022 at 3:28 pm

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